Braves snap 4-game losing streak behind Freeman, Toussaint
FREDDIE Freeman spent the previous four seasons playing for an Atlanta team that averaged 90 losses a year.
Now that the Braves are back challenging for a division title, the All-star first baseman knows his club can’t afford any long losing streaks.
“It’s been four days, so I thought this was a big win for our team,” Freeman said. “I thought we played a quality baseball game today and hopefully we can carry that into this Philly series.”
Freeman hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs, Touki Toussaint pitched into the sixth inning and the NL East-leading Braves snapped a four-game skid with a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.
It was a critical win for Atlanta, which is 5½ games ahead of the second-place Phillies and opens a fourgame home series against them on Thursday. Philadelphia blanked the New York Mets 4-0 on Wednesday night.
The Braves have a magic number of six over Philadelphia to clinch their first division title since 2013.
St. Louis, which had won three straight, trails Milwaukee by three games for the top NL wild card but leads Colorado by 1½ games for the second spot. The Rockies lost 5-2 at Dodger Stadium.
Atlanta closer A.J. Minter, working in a non-save situation in the ninth, walked two to load the bases, but he ended it by striking out Jose Martinez and getting Paul Dejong to pop up. Freeman’s 23rd homer, an opposite-field shot to left-center, put the Braves up 2-0 in the fourth against Jack Flaherty. Freeman went 3 for 3 and is hitting .405 over his past 11 games.
“He’s getting the ball in the air, and it’s carrying, and that’s always a good thing,” manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s a welcomed sight if we can get him going.”
Toussaint (2-1) allowed five hits, two runs, three walks and struck out eight in 5 2/3 innings. A rookie making his fourth career start, Toussaint was chased after Yadier Molina’s RBI single cut the lead to 5-2 in the sixth.
“We survived the first couple of innings with essentially zero fastball command, then suddenly we had some decent command of it and were able to flip the script and challenge guys with some early contacts,” Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said. “If he gets ahead of guys, it’s a tough arsenal to defend.” – AP
Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman (5), right, and Nick Markakis (22) celebrate after defeating St. Louis Cardinals 7-3 in a baseball game on Wednesday in Atlanta.